Huge funding drop in children’s early help services, says UK charity
Budgets for ‘early intervention’ UK children’s services, designed to help prevent abuse and neglect spiralling out of control, have fallen over a quarter since 2013, says Action for Children.
The charity says that ‘crippling cuts’ in government funding for local councils has seen these vital services slashed by £743 million pounds in the past five years, threatening the welfare of vulnerable children.
Budgets for children’s centres across England have also fallen by £450 million, a fall of 42 per cent, yet budgets for safeguarding and children in care have increased by £597 million in the same period. The findings are based on newly-published statistics by the Government showing its planned local authority and school expenditure for 2018/19 and how it compares to previous years.
Imran Hussain, Director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, said the level of cuts was putting councils in an ‘impossible position’: “We know from our own work that without the safety net of well-funded early help services like children’s centres, thousands of children at risk of abuse, neglect or domestic violence are being left to fend for themselves until problems spiral out of control,” he said. “This failure to act with the right help, at the right time, will inevitably have devastating consequences for some children that last a lifetime.
“As these figures clearly show, it also makes no financial sense to cut early help as councils are then forced to spend vast amounts on expensive crisis interventions, ‘firefighting’ problems after they have escalated. The Government needs to allocate additional, dedicated funding for children’s services at next year’s Spending Review. Without urgent action, we risk failing thousands more children across the country.”
Action for Children helps disadvantaged children across the UK by intervening early to stop neglect and abuse, fostering and adoption and supporting disabled children. It has more than 500 services, and campaigns to improve the lives of more than 300,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers every year.